WaTunes offers free digital distribution for musicians

How do they expect to make money? By adding a paid tier that offers more services.

Talk about a race to the bottom: a week after I pondered which digital music distribution service was cheapest, WaTunes made the question irrelevant by offering digital distribution for free. That's right--for no money down and no cut of the royalties, WaTunes promises to distribute your digital downloads to iTunes, Amazon's MP3 store, Rhapsody, eMusic, and Rhapsody.

WaTunes

So how does the company expect to make money? The answer became clear this week when WaTunes launched its premium-priced service, WaTunes VIP. For $29.95 a year, artists and labels will get distribution to more stores (including the Zune Marketplace), the ability to upload videos, unlimited weekly trend reports from iTunes, and a number of other perks outlined on the WaTunes blog.

Just remember: there's more to consider than price. Of the big distributors I've covered, only CD Baby offers you an online storefront for physical CDs as well as digital distribution, and The Orchard is more of a full-service digital record label, handling tasks such as marketing and licensing in addition to distribution.

Meanwhile, "pure" digital distribution services like TuneCore and RouteNote may have to add other services to remain competitive.

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